UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ,Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, Urges restraint and determined effort to root out institutionalized discrimination in wake of U.S. Ferguson Verdict

United Nations Human Rights
(Report was issued on November 25,2014)
November 28,2014

The Grand Jury’s decision not to charge a police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has led to violent protests, including looting and arson. I urge all protestors to avoid violence and destruction in the wake of this decision, in accordance with the expressed wishes of Mr. Brown’s parents and with the law. People have the right to express their dismay and their disagreement with the Grand Jury’s verdict, but not to cause harm to others, or to their property, in the process.

Without knowing the details of the evidence laid before the Missouri Grand Jury – which in turn depends on the quality of the investigation into the killing of Michael Brown – I am not, at this point, able to comment on whether or not the verdict conforms with international human rights law.

Nevertheless, I am deeply concerned at the disproportionate number of young African Americans who die in encounters with police officers, as well as the disproportionate number of African Americans in U.S. prisons and the disproportionate number of African Americans on Death Row.

It is clear that, at least among some sectors of the population, there is a deep and festering lack of confidence in the fairness of the justice and law enforcement systems. I urge the US authorities to conduct in-depth examinations into how race-related issues are affecting law enforcement and the administration of justice, both at the federal and state levels.

Concerns about institutionalized discrimination in the US have repeatedly been raised, by respected national bodies and by UN bodies monitoring the implementation of international human rights treaties, ratified by the US. These include, this year alone, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Human Rights Committee.* In addition, just two weeks ago, Michael Brown’s parents addressed the Committee against Torture** which is currently reviewing the United States’ application of its obligations under the Convention against Torture. That committee will deliver its conclusions on Friday.

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